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Saturday, September 10, 2016

Grabbing their hearts

I'm a proponent of big changes. We need to challenge practices and processes that exist just to exist.  I think we need a revolution of sorts in how we're educating our kids. We need to recognize that what we're doing in so many classrooms isn't right for kids and quickly casting these things aside for something better. 

"We've always done it that way" is the scariest phrase in education.

Trying to change archaic practices slowly won't work.  Gradual gives entrenched practices a chance to stay in place. These practices have deep roots and are often in place to make the adults in a school comfortable. School shouldn't be about the adults.

Practices like elementary homework, morning 'work', and spelling tests don't help kids learn. These things exist because they're there. They've always been there. We continue to let these things exist in our classrooms because 'we've always done it that way", not because they enhance learning.

Like the way we've done back to school. Spending the first days of school driving compliance instead of community. Establishing a hierarchy in place of partnerships. Spending the first days going through the rules, not harnessing the undeniable energy that are kids are bringing into our classes after summer break. We've only got our kids for ten months. Why would you wait until Christmas to smile? 

Grab their hearts.

We humans are not very good at noticing change as it happens. (see climate change) Things just seem to pop up and we go, "oh hey, that's new." Slow change is almost imperceptible. "When did you get so tall" has probably come out of your mouth. Despite my preference, incremental change can be good and you can argue that that pace is how most change happens. Slowly. steadily.

As we approached back to school this year, I noticed a big change. Subtle, but undeniable.

Filling my timeline were efforts to make sure our students knew they are important. That we love them. That they matter. 

And El Cajon's magnificent video. What an innovator David Mishayaro is for his kids and educators! No rhythm :) but a great leader. Everyone who is involved in the education of El Cajon's kids are involved in this effort. Splendid.

Or this amazing video that challenges us to look at how we interact with our kids. Every interaction matters. You never know.

There was a moment at some point during the lead up to the first days, when the collective impact of all these positive messages when I noticed the change. Gone were the posts on establishing rules and solidifying procedures. Fewer posts on classroom management and more on creating culture. I couldn't find a post on how the teacher should establish themselves as the center of learning. I didn't see a single picture of a classroom setup with rows.

It was fantastic. There is always a great energy as schools approaches, but I think we've figured out that we have to capture the energy and use it to build long term positive relationships. Relationships are everything.

We've changed to align with that simple fact.

Thanks for reading.
I'm on Twitter @YourKidsTeacher